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Jun 2 2010   7:37PM GMT

Can you give more than 100 percent?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The director thanked all participants for giving ______ .
a. 100 percent
b. 110 percent


Answer: a.

Explanation:
Percentages are like fractions, parts of the whole. You can’t have more than 100 percent of a finite capacity. If you give something everything you’ve got, that’s 100% you’ve given.

As we all know, the director (in common with project managers and sports figures) is quite likely to have said 110 percent. And why they stop at 100, I don’t know — it might as well have been a thousand, a million, a gazillion percent. A mere 110 percent is pretty measly when you think about it. However, none of them make any sense, because if you’ve got something and you give 100 percent of it, it’s gone. Finito.

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